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N.E.R.D.: Seeing Sounds



Album: Seeing Sounds
Label: Interscope

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The spare pop precision The Neptunes bring as superstar producers goes out the window whenever Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo team up with rapper Shae Haley for their unpredictable hip-hop rock band N.E.R.D. The bizarro psychedelic soul of 2004's Fly Or Die turned off some hooked in by N.E.R.D's relatively straightforward debut In Search Of, but that record's playful adventurousness obviously still appeals to N.E.R.D., which gets even weirder on the new Seeing Sounds. With a jazz-piano breakdown and grating vocal hook about vacant club girls lining up to sniff blow, the single "Everybody Nose" somehow snatches success from the jaws of humiliating defeat, ingratiating itself in spite of seemingly fighting like hell not to. The rest of Seeing Sounds similarly overcomes its inherent haphazardness. Williams should sound more ridiculous than he does when he bellows "Fuck what the government says!" over mariachi horns and John Lennon piano chords on "Love Bomb." But N.E.R.D.'s gonzo commitment to crossing genre boundaries in sometimes silly, nonsensical ways remains surprisingly tenable.